American Civil War Surgical Antiques

Research and Identification

Civil War Era Surgical Sets, Surgeon's Swords & Images

Civil War Surgeon Education & Medical Textbooks

Established 1995    .     Dr. Michael Echols

As seen in: Military Images Magazine, American's Civil War Magazine, Warman's Civil War Collectibles, Antique Week, Northeast Antiques, Civil War Army Swords, Civil War Times Illustrated,  and various TV programs, Antiques & Collecting publications


A Resource For:  Pre-1870 Medical Instrument Identification

Surgery Sets, Medical Instrument Identification, Articles on Collecting, Catalogs, Civil War Surgery


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There are dozens of articles on this site related to surgical instruments

Use the SEARCH,  ARTICLE INDEXES, and the sample links listed below


The heyday of American-made surgical instruments was from the 1830's to the 1870's and centered in the New York and Philadelphia areas.  Prior to the 1830's and after 1900, most surgical instruments were made in England or Europe and imported to this country.   This site centers on American-made surgical sets made prior to 1870.

There is information for identification of pre-1870, (pre-sterilization) American surgical sets and there is no charge for consultations, which are offered as a way to learn from antiques we do not have in this collection.

Collectors and historians will find methods for dating and identifying various instruments found in pre-1870 surgical sets.  There are articles and exhibits to show variations in style and details of surgical instruments and surgical sets in the 1800's, especially those instruments used during the Civil War.

Instrument identification via Civil War era maker catalogs:

Surgical instrument sets were relatively simple during the early part of the 1800's because the 'surgeons' procedures were basic and only involved 'heroic' attempts to save a life.  Surgery as we consider it today did not exist until the 1850's in centers of higher learning in cities like New York and Philadelphia.  Instruments were more simple and less numerous in the sets.  As we approach the Civil War era, surgical procedures become more sophisticated and the medical textbooks reflect this progress.

1870 is when sterilization began and cased sets changed drastically afterwards to allow for sterilization of the various parts of the instruments.  After 1890, the handles of the instruments were no longer made of ivory, wood, or other porous materials that could not stand up to chemical and heat treatments, thus the trend to use all metal instruments after that point in America.   

This collection and website, by Dr. Michael Echols, centers on the Civil War era prior to sterilization and is organized to help Civil War medical collectors, both new and experienced.  Advice and information is offered in a non-threatening and friendly manner in hopes of furthering the distribution of our knowledge. 


Surgical set identification and related articles


Full Index for all instrument and surgical articles see:  Article Indexes

Altered surgical instruments and how value is effected

Amputation knife blades analysis for dating purposes

Antique surgical instrument books and where to find them

Antique surgical instrument identification

Bone forceps 1829 to 1886 and during the Civil War

Civil War individual instrument values and prices

Civil War surgical instruments and their use from a military manual

Civil War era maker marks by Tiemann

Civil War Surgery: field surgeon's list of instruments and medical equipment

Dating surgical saws by association with other instruments

Fake Civil War surgical set on ebay

Forceps design and identification

Gemrig Instrument Catalog c. 1870 (12 pages)

Hernstein Civil War sets: military vs civilian versions

How to identify Civil War surgery sets

Instruments drawings and descriptions for various topics

Instruments normally found in a Civil War field set 1861-65

Military latches and markings for identification of Civil War surgical sets

Post 1880, non-Civil War surgical set identification

Post-Mortem set information, how many, etc.

Surgical set case latch comparisons

Surgical set photos 1

Surgical set photos 2

Surgical set photos 3

Surgical set photos 4

Surgical set photos 5 

Surgical set photos 6

Surgical set photos 7

Surgical instrument makers in America with dates and location

Tiemann list of military surgical set instruments in a case

Tiemann catalogue of Civil War instruments 

Tourniquets: variations and dating methods by shape and buckles

Trepanning instruments in cases and how they are used

Uses of various surgical instruments from a Civil War manual

Valuations of various types of surgical sets

See the full Index for all instrument and surgical articles in:


The Private Medical & Civil War Collections of

Dr. Michael Echols

Medical Antiques Index

American Civil War Medicine & Surgical Antiques Index

Contact Dr. Arbittier or Dr. Echols



Civil War Medical Collections 


Direct links to all medical & Civil War collections on this site                         

American Surgical Sets:

Pre-Civil War:  1 | 2  -   Post-Civil War:  3  -  Civil War 1861-1865:  4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8   INDEX

Medical Text-Books:

1 | 1a | 2 | 2a | 3 | 3a | 4 | 4a | 5 | 5a | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 9a | 10 | 11 | 12    INDEX

Surgeon General's Office Library printed catalogues: 1840 | 1864 | 1865
Medical Lecture Cards: 1a | 1b 2 | 34 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21    INDEX

Medical Faculty and Authors:


Navy Surgeon Exams:

1863 Navy Surgeon Applicant Exams with Biographies   INDEX ONE | INDEX TWO

Surgeon CDVs, Images:

Army: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8    INDEX

Navy: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8   

Hosp Dep't Bottles, Tins, 

U.S. Army Pannier:

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

American Civil War Medicine & Surgical Antiques

Please request permission before commercial use or publication of any content or photos on this site and credit any use with:  "American Civil War Surgical Antiques"   All content and all original photography on this Web Site is copyrighted 1995 - 2015 and may not be used on any other web site or in commercial print without the expressed e-mail permission from Dr. Arbittier:  Contact   All rights reserved. 


Students doing reports or projects are welcome to use the content of this site without permission, but credits would be appreciated.


Please note: information on this site may not be normally referenced as this is an active and long-term educational research project.  Personal notes may not be properly cited for publication.  Various articles are digitally reproduced under the 'fair-use act' of the copyright laws and are intended for educational purposes only.  Many citations are from Google digital 'books' and can be traced backwards via a search of a unique string in the citation.


 Arbittier Museum of Medical History Tour:   1 | 2 | 3


Last update: Wednesday, October 18, 2017